Digital Skills to Find the Best Car Deals

According to the research firm J.D. Power and Associates, the average age of new car owners fell in 2015 from 49 to 48, spurred in part by a growing number of Gen Y buyers. The generation of young adults often thought of by analysts as Uber-obsessed and debt-averse, now comprise 28% of sales–up from 17% in 2010.

Bloomberg View argues that people across all age groups are spending less of their income on cars today than they did in the ‘80s and that the record number of sales is driven by a recovering economy and population growth–pointing out that the U.S. population increased 29% between 1989 and 2014–rather than a sustainable trend.

Regardless, it’s clear more young adults are buying cars today than in the recent past, and they’re going about buying in much more digital way than their parents did. Whether you’re a young adult shopping for a car, or an older adult looking for the best deal, here are three things to consider:

1.Know what you want–to a point.

J.D. Power found that young adults spend twice as much time doing online research before buying a car than older generations. You should know how much cars are worth, what the ongoing maintenance cost is likely to be, and what features are important to you. For instance, J.D. Power found that Internet connectivity and modern technology drive new cars sales among young adults.

But don’t do so much online research that you think you know what car you want without first going on a few test drives. You may not know what you truly like until you’ve driven a few different options, and a car isn’t a shirt you can easily return if you get it home and decide it’s not a good fit.

2. Use your tech-savvy to your advantage

With apps from Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and Consumer Reports, you can continue your research live at the dealer with your smartphone, enabling you to quickly check to see if the offer the salesperson made you is a good one. Apps likeTrueCar and the website MakeMyDeal also can help buyers firm up pricing before even stepping on the lot.

3. Get preapproved for a car loan

Getting pre-approved at a financial institution like Liberty Savings lets you know exactly how much you can afford, your interest rate, and what your monthly payment will be. This gives you more buying power when negotiating at the dealership. Plus, as a not-for-profit financial institution, we have the ability to offer you great members-only rates.

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